Fastest-Growing Pet Franchise Launches National Initiative to Hire Adults with Autism

PHOENIX/ Aug. 7, 2019 / —Dogtopia, one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing pet franchises, has just released a system-wide Autism Employment Manual to equip the company’s 100+ franchise locations with the tools needed to hire employees with autism. Dogtopia partnered with the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) and the Dogtopia Foundation to build the manual.

“Nationally, it’s reported that 86% of adults living with autism spectrum disorder are either underemployed or unemployed,” said SARRC President and CEO, Daniel Openden, Ph.D., BCBA-D. “We hope this employment manual not only helps serve as a resource, but a roadmap to franchise owners across the U.S. We’re grateful to partners like Dogtopia, that are committed to building opportunities for people seeking the chance to contribute through meaningful, competitive employment in our community.”

The manual is split into five sections to educate and inform Dogtopia owners on best ways to hire, train and make a difference in the lives of employees with autism. Working closely with SARRC and the Dogtopia Foundation, Dogtopia’s new educational tool teaches and guides owners on how to diversify their teams while bringing on a dedicated employee with a unique set of skills.

“Across the country, Dogtopia currently employs nearly 20 adults living with autism, and we are hoping this manual provides a valuable tool to help ensure our daycare centers are equipped to hire an adult with autism and ensure a positive experience for both them and the team,” said Neil Gill, President and CEO of Dogtopia and Chairman of the Dogtopia Foundation. 

When given the opportunity, individuals with ASD can bring a unique perspective and understanding to a work environment. One person’s unique strengths may be a game-changer for an employer or organization. “Hiring employees with autism has positively transformed our workplace,” said Connie Emery-Walker, Dogtopia’s East Coast Corporate Store Operations Manager. In fact, Dogtopia of Tyson’s Corner in Virginia has hired 10 employees with autism. “Our team is proud of our social mission to employ individuals with autism and our pet parents have thanked us for what we are doing for the autism community.”

The Dogtopia Foundation enables dogs to positively change our world through funding programs focused around service dogs for veterans and first responders, youth literacy programs and employment initiatives for adults with autism. The Foundation’s aim is to identify needs, fill gaps and integrate knowledge for continuous improvement in the three areas of focus. By connecting dogs with the organizations the Foundation supports, the Foundation will help returning veterans, children and adults with autism reach their full potential.

For more information about the Dogtopia Foundation, please visit www.dogtopiafoundation.org.

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